Because of the inherent inertia of the energy system, any decisions taken in the energy sector have particularly long term impacts. Opportunities offered by new technologies and potential negative consequences of future decisions on the environment and on society can be minimized or avoided by early stage by provident analysis. A pre-requisite for such a course of action is a thorough understanding of complex systems, which allows decision makers to find a balance between the technical and economic possibilities of today, and the long term development perspectives. To generate this knowledge, DLR develops and uses methods and tools of systems analysis and technology assessment which support problem solving in the field of energy. DLR thus generates specific knowledge which can guide decision makers from science, policy and industry to identify long term research priorities, and to establish a framework supporting sound energy, environmental and research policy.
The systems analysis work of DLR combines top-down analysis of the overall energy supply system at regional, national and European level with economic and technology oriented bottom-up studies. The applied methods range from assessing renewable resource potentials with Earth Observation data (making use of synergies with the research field space), the modeling of the integration of renewable energy sources with high temporal and spatial resolution to scenario studies for the analysis and development of implementation strategies for the German "Energiewende". Further synergies are created with DLR’s transport research e.g. for the assessment of impacts of electric mobility to the transport system.
The research activities are allocated at the DLR Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, partly in cooperation with other DLR institutes.